The history books tell of the fate of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was beheaded for treason after making the mistake of defying her powerful cousin Elizabeth I. Gaetano Donizetti and his young librettist Giuseppe Bardari – inspired by Schiller's play – worked with passionate fidelity to convert this clash between two Queens into the opera Maria Stuarda. But a personal conflict fired by rivalry between the two leading ladies was superimposed on the historical one and their fits of temper created numerous problems with the censors in Naples from the first rehearsals until ultimately the performances were banned. In 1835 the opera was premiered at the Scala in Milan with Maria Malibran in the title role. Malibran decided, in a brave but short-lived gesture, to defy the censors by singing all the words that had been expurgated. After just a few performances, the authorities cancelled the work and Maria Stuarda was forgotten for a century, until it was rediscovered in 1958. Since then it has grown steadily in both popularity and prestige.